12th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
Third Place, Views Beyond the Peninsula

 

"Hoop Dreams, Hispaniola"
By Randy Mont-Reynaud

About Randy Mont-Reynaud


Last July, Randy Mont-Reynaud and her daughter, Marie-Jo, left Palo Alto's high-tech territory behind for Haiti's electricity-deprived hills. While walking through a courtyard of a boys' orphanage, Mont-Reynaud saw a boy staring at his basketball pump.


Click on photo for larger image.

"He was wearing these baggy American pants and Nike shoes," Mont-Reynaud said. "These don't grow on trees in Haiti. If the ship stops coming, they're bare-footed."

While most American boys would shrug off a broken pump, this child remained focused on its uselessness. The boy's despair and disenfranchisement were the emotions Mont-Reynaud aimed to capture in a photo. Deprived of the necessary knowledge to make repairs, many Haitian youths are left back, creating an only-the-strong-survive society.

"The joy in your life is at the caprice or whim of somebody else," she said. "Anyone at a computer knows frustration of not getting a program to run. But you can call tech support. A situation I think we can relate to -- the hopelessness."

During her two-month visit, Mont-Reynaud lived with a native family, adapting to a native diet of cornmeal mush and beans as well as a no-plumbing environment. While walking or riding a mule through the terrain, she always carried her Minolta camera.

As administrative director of Stanford Law School's law and economics program, she doesn't have much time for picture-taking. Mont-Reynaud credits her two children for turning her on to photography. In fact, winning the Weekly's photo competition appears to be the new family tradition. Both Marie-Jo and son, Jordy, a Stanford junior, are previous winners.

With Marie-Jo researching a paper on Haiti's current government, a return to Haiti is planned for this summer. And Mont-Reynaud is looking forward to getting reacquainted with the lifestyle because "you can't really be a tourist to poverty."

--Terry Tang